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Salmonella infection

Page last updated on 28 February 2019

Infection with salmonella, is one of many possible causes of gastroenteritis. Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In most people, the disease resolve within a few days, but for some people, mainly the very old and very young, salmonellosis can be a dangerous disease

Key disease information

What is salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause an illness called salmonellosis, which affects millions of people each year. People with salmonellosis may experience nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal cramps between 12 to 24 hours after infection, which can last up to a week. Most people recover without treatment, but some people may have diarrhoea so severe it causes dehydration. The bacteria can sometimes spread to other parts of the body where it can cause serious complications.

How is salmonella spread?

Salmonella can be passed from person-to-person or animal-to-person. Infected people shed bacteria in their faeces, which can inadvertently contaminate improperly cooked foods. This is most common with raw and undercooked eggs and poultry, raw milk and milk products, raw red meats, unwashed salads, fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts, some shellfish and oysters.

Is salmonella contagious?

Yes, salmonella is highly contagious. People who are infected are usually contagious for several days to several weeks. There are some people who may continue to shed the bacteria for more than one year.

What are the symptoms of salmonella?

People who are infected with salmonella may experience fever, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, headache and diarrhoea. There are also complications that can occur due to dehydration and infection of other body systems aside from the gastrointestinal tract.

How can salmonella be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis. Because it is spread by ingesting the bacteria from contaminated food, water or hands, good personal and food hygiene is important to prevent the spread of disease. It is important to thoroughly cook all food from animal sources to prevent salmonella infection. Improper food handling and storage techniques may also increase the risk of infection.

There are also some important things to consider such as:

  • Follow good hand washing techniques after going to the toilet and before and after handling food.
  • Avoid going swimming until the diarrhoea has stopped for at least 24 hours.
  • Avoid recontamination from raw food within the kitchen or refrigerator, after cooking is completed.
  • Emphasise the importance of refrigerating food and maintaining a sanitary kitchen.
  • Avoid consuming raw or incompletely cooked eggs, or using dirty or cracked eggs.
  • Pasteurise all milk and egg products.
  • Educate food handlers on the importance of handwashing, and separating raw and cooked foods.
  • Wash hands after handling reptiles, birds or baby chicks.

For more information regarding salmonella infection speak with your healthcare professional.

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Sources & Citations

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella. Questions and answers. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  2. Victoria State Government. Salmonellosis. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella. Prevention. Available at: (accessed 18 October 2018).
  4. Government of South Australia. SA Health. Salmonella infection – including symptoms, treatment and prevention. Available at: (2 November 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.10.0372 - Date of preparation November 2018